Though it’s still only February, yesterday felt just like spring in Sacramento, which paved the way for some excellent Saturday Shenanigans.
The SHEnanigans Ride
First order of business was coffee, which my boyfriend (a.k.a. Tiger) kindly brought me from Philz on R Street, since he’s a morning person and I’m a needs-coffee-bribes-to-get-out-of-bed-on-a-gorgeous-Saturday-morning person. (Don’t judge.) With caffeination/motivation sorted it was time to perpetrate some Saturday Shenanigans via a fun morning ride with the SHEnanigans bike club led by the vivacious Sweaty Betty. The SHEnanigans club is made up of a group of friendly and festive people who LOVE to ride. I highly recommend you follow SHEnanigans on Facebook if you’re looking for something smaller (or perhaps less intimidating) than Bike Party Sacramento but no less fun.
We started out under a brilliant blue sky at the old Sacramento Bee parking lot on 21st and Q, which was the scene of a Street Art Mural Jam hosted by Wide Open Walls last October, so is covered in amazing art from more than 150 muralists and street artists. It’s inspiring to wander around and soak in so much creativity in one place, with art that is vibrant, unique…and temporary. Run and see for yourself before the developers tear it down to erect The Press, yet another high-rise apartment building that most average Sacramentans won’t be able to afford.
About 50 bicyclists set out for the still-forming River District first, feeling merry and invigorated by the weather. Heading up North 7th Street from Alkali Flat towards the Railyards we were met with a blustery headwind (little did I know, a portent of things to come). The wind, coupled with a slight incline, made for a heart-pumping pedal to our first stop at Township 9 Park, next to the Sacramento Pump Track, which was already dotted with dirt bikes. I looked down at my heavy and clunky beach cruiser and shrugged, then enjoyed a nip and some leftover Philz coffee while chatting with various riders and trying to recruit people to follow this blog. Always Be Closing, my friends.
After the stop we headed down the American River Bike Trail towards Old Town Sacramento. The wind was extremely feisty on the trail, and at this point I want to give a quick shout-out to the company who made my ginormous and ridiculously comfortable ear muffs. I may have looked like a Muppet, but the piercing wind couldn’t get at my ear holes and I was so grateful for that. As we pedaled on, I couldn’t help but ponder how much this part of the trail has changed in the three and a half years since I moved to Midtown Sacramento. Trash piles littered the side of the trail, illegal encampments dotted the river’s edge. I played a begrudging game of Name That Feces (dog…goose…human, oh my), dodging left and right to avoid the piles. You might be asking yourself, “Isn’t this a blog about how great Sacramento is?” To which I say, “Hell yes!” But you must love Sacramento warts and all or it doesn’t really count.
In Old Sac we took up brief residence near the Pony Express Monument in a small cul-de-sac that makes an excellent out-of-the-way stop for smaller bike rides. I was feeling peckish so Tiger and I went to Luis, Jr’s. for the first time, since it seemed like it would be cheap and fast, but I’m sad to report it was not good. The weak margarita tasted like cheap mix and Tiger reported that his chicken taco meat tasted like wadded-up newspaper. It wasn’t that cheap either, which is typical in a touristy place, I guess, but it also wasn’t fast (strike three), and we missed the next leg of the ride, which went over the Tower Bridge into West Sacramento to visit Federico Díaz’s “Subtile” sculpture, made up of bizarre, mirrored masses that resemble upside-down wasp nests made out of disco ball tiles. In a word: fabulous. Tiger and I waited like stalkers for the group to come back over the bridge then headed over to Vallejo’s, where I attempted to order a better margarita, but the bartender was so hammered it was a hilarious but ultimately futile effort. I finally just wandered out onto the patio after waiting and waiting for our margaritas while the bartender pounded back shots with a friend and repeatedly pulled up bottles, looked at them confusedly, and put them back, then poured a drink from one glass to another for no apparent reason after tasting it repeatedly. Tiger went in to try and finish the task and returned some 15 minutes later with two suspicious-looking cocktails (supposedly containing the same margarita yet somehow not the same color) which he said the bartender made by “randomly pouring ingredients like a mad scientist.” I asked, “In a manner similar to Jackson Pollock applying paint to canvas?” to which he nodded. The highlight though was chatting with some great people, making new friends (hi Jackie!), and loving on a cute Frenchie puppy named Marcel.
Shenanigans Part Deux: Crabageddon
After we wrapped up at Vallejo’s it was back to Sac Bee, and Tiger and I peeled off for Saturday Shenanigans part deux: biking to a crab feed at the Elks Lodge in the Pocket. During the planning stages it seemed so doable. The fantasy: a nice, sunny, leisurely ride down the levee trail to a delicious crab dinner. The reality: fighting blustery wind, dodging downed twigs and limbs (even stopping to pull a stick out of my wheel), and running over every spiky chestnut ball in town, eyes full of blown grit. Picture the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz flying her broom in the tornado, and yes I was also laughing maniacally. It was so silly I had to laugh. Once up on the levee it was actually quite glorious for a couple miles, sun sparkling off the water, green grasses blowing in the now-manageable breeze. We stopped at Scott’s Seafood for the first time, where I had margarita number 3 and it was very good. (Winning!) I definitely plan on checking that place out more thoroughly another time.
We made it to the Elks Lodge, wind-tousled and breathless, and enjoyed some good crab and jazz music with old friends. Have you ever been to a crab feed? It’s a must-try experience. It’s very festive, like a big party, with a band and dancing, raffles galore, and a general buzz of excitement and anticipation. This particular crab feed had a nacho bar appetizer, and I was like, “Nice try, jerks.” I’m no noob and won’t be tricked into filling up on nachos, no way. Once it’s time for dinner they try to stuff you with salad, rolls, and pasta, but I wasn’t having any of it. I sat there with my arms crossed like Jeff Dunham’s Walter puppet until it was time for the main event. And it is an event. Once the crab comes streaming out of the kitchen in big buckets the atmosphere changes; a sort of tension fills the air as people suddenly feel rushed to cram as many crustaceans into their crab-holes as humanly possible. As I bemoaned to Tiger later, “How many creatures had to die this night to sate my crab lust?!” It’s reminiscent of the raptor feeding scene in Jurassic Park. Like I said, a must-try experience. As the feeding frenzy wound down one of our friends asked, “Now you two have to ride all the way back to town in the dark?” And I replied, “No, now we GET to ride all the way back to town in the dark.” We all laughed but I may have seen pity in their eyes.
The Long Road Home
Back outside, it was time to prepare mentally and physically. Thanks to Bike Party we were well quipped with lights, and I donned scarf, gloves, and my beloved ear muffs while Tiger turned his Pill on blast. Two cops walked out of the Elks Lodge and one said, “Now I’m feeling pumped,” and I screamed, “Let’s do this!” I suggested we wouldn’t mind a police escort, but they said we probably had more lights than they did on their cruiser, so after a mental high five Tiger and I were off. We had planned a stop at The Trap, one of the diviest bars I’ve ever been to, which is saying a LOT, but we were full of crab and empty of greenbacks, and the Trap is a cash-only bar, so that’s a story for another time.
Back up on the levee we stopped to take a little nip, looking at the stars, breathing in the crisp Delta breeze, and watching the glittering river. Courage bolstered, we soldiered on. I’m not sure how, but somehow we also faced a stiff headwind on the way back, which seems impossible, but I guess “science.” It’s also slightly uphill, which seemed cruel, but I was utterly motivated by Hypnotize #04 by System of a Down. Substitute “I’m just sitting in my car” with “I’m just peddling on my bike” and tell me you couldn’t peddle all the way to San Francisco on that music high. We had planned some additional stops for refreshment, but as Tiger pointed out when we finally reached Front Street, vigorous exercise does not really create a strong desire for cocktails. And we were pretty wiped out from battling the wind all day. So we headed home to watch the latest Drunk History while enjoying Manhattans made with Larceny and Luxardo cherries. Yum. Not a bad way to wrap up some Saturday Shenanigans in Sacramento!
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